Twenty-four rare paintings depicting the famous Battle of Pollilur,
in which the East India Company army surrendered to Tipu Sultan
and his father Hyder Ali, is the piece de resistance of British
auction house Sotheby's Oct 6 Islamic World Sale of Art.
The paintings are estimated at 650,000-800,000 pounds.
The Battle of Pollilur, which took place Sep 10, 1780, marks its
230th anniversary this month. The battle is one of the worst
defeats the British suffered on the subcontinent, with a high
The bi-annual sale will present more than 400 lots and is expected
to realise in excess of 10 million pounds, a statement released by
the auction house here said Monday evening.
Commenting on the Tipu Sultan paintings, Edward Gibbs, senior
director and head of Sotheby's Middle East department, said: "Tipu
Sultan was a remarkable figure and is regarded as a great national
hero in South Asia."
"He is a hero to Muslims throughout the wider Islamic world. He
was a freedom fighter and a symbol of resistance to Anglo-Saxon
colonialism who inspired Mahatma Gandhi. He was also a remarkable
statesman, a visionary proponent of multiculturalism and the
builder of a modern multi-faith state in Mysore and Karnataka,"
"These paintings record Tipu's finest hour when he defeated the
British oppressors in the battlefield in 1780. The Battle of
Pollilur was arguably the greatest victory by Muslim forces over a
Christian army since Mehmet, the conqueror, captured
Constantinople in 1453, or Saladin restored Jerusalem to Islam in
1187," he added.
The paintings, which have remained in private hands since 1802,
were last exhibited in 1990 in an exhibition, "Tigers round the
Throne, The Court of Tipu Sultan" at the Zamana Gallery in London.
After the Battle of Pollilur, Tipu commissioned a mural to
commemorate his father's victory, which was installed in the Daria
Daulat palace in Seringapatam (now Srirangapatam) in 1784.
The paintings illustrate Hyder and Tipu, splendidly attired on
their elephants, supported by their army and the French
The works were acquired by Captain John William Freese in around
1802. He was a member of the Madras Artillery and played an
important role in the siege of Seringapatam in 1799.
In 1802, Freese was appointed as Commissary of Stores at
Seringapatam. By descent, the paintings went to sixth Earl of
Lanesborough, grandson of Captain Freese, and remained in the
family for a further 100 years until these were sold as part of a
group in the Swithland Hall Estate Sale in 1978 on behalf of the
ninth Earl of Lanesborough.
The paintings also feature 18th-century notations which identify
key figures in the battle, some of whom have never been recorded